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One if by Land, Two if by Sea Review + Photos (Restaurant Week)

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Photos in their original context are here: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2011/01/...

• portobello soup, chives

This amuse bouche smelled like it was going to be really meaty, like maybe it was flavored with bacon. Though it was plenty rich, the smell was actually better than the taste, which we found a little bland. More salt (or some actual bacon!) would’ve fixed it.

• heirloom radish salad, wild arugula, pecorino cheese, popcorn, citrus vinaigrette

This was such a nice wintry salad, with layers of flavors provided by the slightly fruity radishes and the slightly stinky cheese. The popcorn, which wasn’t listed on the menu, provided a pleasant surprise crunch and added a little whimsy.

• roasted butternut squash soup, Bonnie Blue farm goat cheese, cranberry coulis, pecans

Though not as good as the bacony Métrazur squash soup, this bowl had plenty to offer with its crunchy nuts, smooth cheese, and herbs (tarragon, my boyfriend said). The goat was maybe a smidge too strong for the delicate squash flavor, but it’s not like I’m really going to complain about too much cheese.

• red beet risotto, beet greens, fennel, crème fraiche, dill

I really considered ordering this but decided I’d be dumb to pass up steak for a dish with no protein, so it was my boyfriend who ended up with the best dish of the night. The initial flavor was just plain super-buttery risotto, with the beet taste trailing as the bite hit the back of my throat. The green tint around the edge of the plate is the hint of beet greens, and the slivers of orange on top are what tasted to us like sweet potatoes. Those and the fennel added a nice crunch.

• pretzel bread

This was an $8 addition to the $35 Restaurant Week menu and was worth every penny. The strips of bread were exceptionally soft and buttery in the middle with crunchy ends crisscrossed with melted cheese.

• grilled bavette steak, swiss chard, pearl barley, roasted cipollini onion, beef jus

The bavette (or flank) steak comes from the stomach muscles of the cow, so while it wasn’t as tender as a filet mignon, it was a great cut for the price and cooked just to suit me. The beef jus tasted like mushrooms to me and added a nice depth to the barley. Some bites of the steak were melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the whole dish was such a comfort on the blustery night.

• gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut) mousse, caramel compressed bananas, banana bread, banana bread ice cream

I’ve had a thing for soufflés lately, so my boyfriend asked if I could substitute the restaurant’s chocolate chip soufflé for the regular Restaurant Week desserts. Our server agreed to it with a small supplement in price, so I spent the meal feeling ecstatic about dessert. When it came time, however, our server had to break the news that the kitchen hadn’t prepared any soufflés, thinking no one would be ordering them during Restaurant Week. I was disappointed for sure but really appreciated the effort and was plenty pleased with this chocolate dessert in its place.

The chocolate and hazelnut mousse was formed into a cylinder and rolled in a flaky crust that provided a nice contrasting texture. The bananas had been sous vide(-ed?) in caramel that the banana bread sopped up the remainder of, giving it moistness that would’ve been missing otherwise. I loved that the ice cream was plated on top of the bread, as there’s nothing I hate more in a dessert than melted ice cream hanging out alone on one side of the plate.

• mascarpone cheesecake, nut-spiced foam

My boyfriend’s dish was again the superior one with this barely-sweet mascarpone cheesecake. The super-crunchy cookie bits were much better than some plain, old graham cracker crust, and the nutty foam reminded me so much of Christmastime. This was the perfect winter dessert. I mean, other than a chocolate chip soufflé.

With the ultra-low candlelight, the fresh roses, and the windows that displayed the terrace out back piled feet-deep in snow, I can see why One if by Land, Two if by Sea is considered one of NYC’s most romantic restaurants. The decor was rich, the service professional but not uptight, and the food well-executed if not wildly inventive. I’ll be talking about that beet risotto for weeks and thinking about that soufflé until I can finally get a taste of it.

My rating: 4 stars out of 5

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One If By Land, Two If By Sea
17 Barrow St., New York, NY 10014

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  1. This place is STRICTLY for ambiance. Avoid if food is a priority.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sing me a bar

      Try the risotto and report back, thx.

      1. re: plumpdumpling

        I am glad you had a good experience. This is a lovely restaurant, especially when it is cold outside, with the fireplace and all. That being said, I have been disappointed by the food the last 2 times I went. The food was completely under-seasoned to the pint that patrons were requesting salt shakers! I have to respectfully agree that there are much better foodie restaurants available, but I have not been back in over a year. Perhaps they have a better chef these days. But a lovely place, for sure.

        1. re: hungryinmanhattan

          Yeah, I'm certainly not pushing anyone to go if they're looking for mind-blowing new cuisine. But as far as great date places go, this is tops. Especially in winter, with the snow gathered outside those big windows.

          1. re: plumpdumpling

            My favourite part of this venue is the ghost stories. Make sure to chat with the bartender about all the experiences had by employees, mostly after hours. I believe this was Aaron Burr's home to which he came home after being mortally wounded in a duel. There have been numerous sightings by clean up crew and other late shift workers. After a few stories, you REALLY start getting the vibe!

            1. re: sing me a bar

              Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel-Burr was 80 when he died in his bed on Staten Island after an extended illness.

              I went to this restaurant a few years ago-if you are going for romantic reasons, try to avoid upstairs, which is not at all romantic. I think you need to see the garden in order to make up for the low quality of the food.

      2. re: sing me a bar

        Unless the food and service have changed dramatically in the past couple of years I would agree with the critics...one lousy dinner and 2 horrible brunches (one virtually inedible), the 2 brunches at the suggestion of those I was going out with. The service was in the realm of the NYC actor/waiter (in that order) who can't be bothered to serve you.

      3. I went with my girl and I agree, they have the most spectacular pretzel bread topped with melted Gruyère cheese. It was the favorite part of our meal. I would go back just to experience it again.

        1. The restaurant has a new executive chef whose resume, according to various internet sources, includes Le Bernardin and Lutece.

          http://www.zagat.com/buzz/new-chef-in...
          http://www.oneifbyland.com/pdf/ctb.pdf

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          Le Bernardin
          155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

          2 Replies
          1. re: Riverman500

            Interesting! Hope this means more people will be coming for the food than the candlelight.

            1. re: plumpdumpling

              Has anyone been to One if by Land, Two if by Sea since Executive Chef Colt Taylor joined? Has there been any changes (read: improvement) to the food?

              They're also doing Restaurant Week until September 4, 2011. Might be a good opportunity to check it out.